As everyone knows, hearts and minds are the key to winning counterinsurgency war. Failing that, they’re also the best place to drop a target with one round.
A Pentagon group has encouraged some U.S. military snipers in Iraq to target suspected insurgents by scattering pieces of “bait,” such as detonation cords, plastic explosives and ammunition, and then killing Iraqis who pick up the items, according to military court documents[…] “Baiting is putting an object out there that we know they will use, with the intention of destroying the enemy,” Capt. Matthew P. Didier, the leader of an elite sniper scout platoon attached to the 1st Battalion of the 501st Infantry Regiment, said in a sworn statement. “Basically, we would put an item out there and watch it. If someone found the item, picked it up and attempted to leave with the item, we would engage the individual as I saw this as a sign they would use the item against U.S. Forces.”
Ludicrous as it might seem this “baiting” tactic makes a certain sense as an answer to the maddeningly inchoate nature of insurgent war. Fielding the best-trained shooters on Earth (apologies to british SAS) only takes you so far when the opposition refuses to stand apart from the general population. Obviously if the enemy would stand up and attack us like the Russians were supposed to we would win, but then the enemy knows that if they did that they would lose. We have to deal with the fact that our opposition is not stupid and (mostly) not suicidal.
The same focus on identifying the enemy, what the army calls “separating tourists from terrorists,” shows up in the sales pitch for a new microwave-like active denial system from Raytheon. Hose a crowd with an agonizing pain ray, wait to see who doesn’t run (i.e., insurgents) and shoot them. Hearts and minds!
Look, I appreciate that insurgent war poses real problems for the army, and it makes sense to exercise some American entrepreneurial spirit in trying to fix it. The problem is that all of these “solutions” strike me as tactics smart (if that) and strategy foolish. In both cases the obvious likelihood of false positives (most cities hire people to pick up street trash) pretty much ensures that the system will casually murder any number of innocents among the actual hostiles. We would go berserk if someone operated that way on American soil and we shouldn’t accept it in Iraq.
On a more philosiphical level these micro solutions to a macro problem seem like stopgap efforts to manage a conflict when their necessity proves we have already lost. Granted that we started with one hand behind our back – we failed to plan for post-Saddam Iraq. Modern armies don’t fight insurgencies well. Our genius war cabinet stuck their fingers in their ears long after adapting might have done some good. By the time signs of desperation like ‘baiting’ started to appear the various insurgent groups deeply rooted themselves in the population at the the same time that we became hopelessly alienated from it.
Actually, if I understand John Yoo’s logic he wouldn’t object to this “tactic” being applied on American streets. The closer you are to American citizens, the less their rights outweigh the needs of the security state!
Ask the Isrealis how well mowing down suspected terrorists and insurgents works for local and foreign relations. Surprise, surprise. Every time you kill an innocent bystander, you find yourself facing a new fresh-faced terrorist. Every time you bomb a mosque or torture-rape a child or drive through town at 60 mph in a five ton tank, running over cars and pedestrians, in hopes of avoiding any IEDs, you create a great deal of hostility to your occupation. If a bunch of Romanian soldiers decided to occupy down-town Houston the way American soldiers occupy the Iraqi Green Zone, I can’t honestly say I wouldn’t take a few pot-shots at passing Romanian convoys out of sheer bitter spite, given the opportunity.
you silly moonbat. modern armys fight insurgancies just fine, s’long as you take off the kid glvoes and start treating these people like they’re asking to be treated.
if they continue to resist, we need to lower thier numbers to more managble levels.
say…2400 or so in each provice.
Now now, you create perpetual war against the insurgency you have, not against the insurgency you wish you had.
yes, because civilians don’t curiously pick things up off the ground. especially in a place where a funny-looking doodad might be tradeable for money for, oh, i don’t know, food? hm, wonder what this thing is. maybe i can sell it to my neighbor, he runs a pawn shop. (gunfire) (plop)
or maybe the US army has some new twisted philosophy based on full metal jacket?
anyone that picks it up is an AQ. anyone that stands still is a well-disciplined AQ! aint war hell?
Ammunition? In Iraq? Jeebus.
God forbid a nearsighted person should walk into one of these traps. “Hey, something shiny! Is that a coin? Wait, my mistake, it’s a–” *BANG*
Our dumbshit “strategy” in a nutshell.
Nonsense. Anyone that runs is an insurgent. Anyone that stands still is a well-disciplined insurgent.
Seriously, I think we need a demonstration of this technology involving one of our wingnut blogger friends. Just to see if that magical conservative power-up against tasers also works with directed microwaves.
Phoenician in a time of Romans
Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War
In the case of armed conflict not of an international character occurring in the territory of one of the High Contracting Parties, each Party to the conflict shall be bound to apply, as a minimum, the following provisions:
1. Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed hors de combat by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded on race, colour, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria.
To this end, the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons:
(a) Violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;
(b) Taking of hostages;
(c) Outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment;
(d) The passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court, affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.
Where, in the territory of a Party to the conflict, the latter is satisfied that an individual protected person is definitely suspected of or engaged in activities hostile to the security of the State, such individual person shall not be entitled to claim such rights and privileges under the present Convention as would, if exercised in the favour of such individual person, be prejudicial to the security of such State.
Where in occupied territory an individual protected person is detained as a spy or saboteur, or as a person under definite suspicion of activity hostile to the security of the Occupying Power, such person shall, in those cases where absolute military security so requires, be regarded as having forfeited rights of communication under the present Convention.
In each case, such persons shall nevertheless be treated with humanity, and in case of trial, shall not be deprived of the rights of fair and regular trial prescribed by the present Convention. They shall also be granted the full rights and privileges of a protected person under the present Convention at the earliest date consistent with the security of the State or Occupying Power, as the case may be.
Or, “Gee, someone dropped some ammo on the street. Ammunition is selling for over a 1$US a round in Iraq. I think I’ll sell it… BANG!”
Or “Uh oh, those forgetful Americans left some explosive on the street, some kid might blow their hand off. I think I’ll dispose of it somewhere safe….BANG!”
Or some kid does pick it up and the sniper not wanting to shoot a child lets him go… straight to the terrorist that paid the kid a quarter to pick it up.
My God, are Wolfie and Feith back at the Pentagon? Those two would come up with the most brain-dead shit. Unless there’s something missing in the report on this ‘program’, it firmly falls into the “WTF are you thinking?” category. The kind of stupidity only neotards would think is just brilliant. Guess more trickle down from the top.
Leave it to Kristol clear type thinking to believe sniping out actual hearts and minds that pick up a spool of wire on a street is the way to go. Maybe to dispel any untidiness, they’ll say Jesus would have stopped the bullet if they were innocent. Plus tactically it’s going to have a very short shelf life before our snipers become the hunted if the program is continued.
If I were running a “hearts and minds” campaign, I’d think twice about adopting techniques that hunters use on wild game. I mean, it does clarify the relationship between the occupying force and the populace, but still. . .
You’ve all seen the pics of poor Mexicans who make a living sifting through the landfills around Mexico City salvaging anything and everything that might earn a penny or two for a once-a-day (if they’re lucky) meal?
Now imagine Iraq in its current situation… don’t imagine there aren’t thousands upon thousands of scavengers looking for anything that might be of some marginal value that might mean the difference in eating or starving to death?
We see ammunition, they see something to pawn. Like rounding up a flock of chickens in a pen, putting in a small pile of feed, then shooting any bird that comes over to peck at it….
This country should be ashamed of itself.
But, hey… we got ’em on that MoveOn ad, eh, boyz? VICTORY~!
Herr Bush burned his copy of the Geneva Convention about 6 years of so ago, give or take.
I guess we’ll have to bring Gonzo back to law it a bit, in a Texas sorta way, of course. Take about 10 minutes to get the legal rubber stamp of approval out and make this go away. There we go ” All dead Iraqi’s are suspected insurgents unless they can prove otherwise” signed Al “don’t recall signing this” Gonzales
Not a funny subject , I know.
I thought the Generals on the ground were in charge of operations in Iraq, so I’d be mighty curious to find out who these people are. If that tactic doesn’t qualify as ‘war crimes’, what does?
I think this story, combined with the BlackWater Experience, is going to hurt an awful lot of American troops.
This sounds like a great way to deal with the rash of child molesters in this country! Leave a little kid alone in the middle of a shopping mall, and anyone who stops to talk to him is obviously a sexual predator and can be lynched!
You could go one further. Replace Google with a website full of under-aged porn and arrest every IP address you trace back home.
We’re taking the rigorous sophistication of US airport security (shoes and drinking water are for terrorists!) and combining it with the intricate complexity of the terror alert system (red means bad! yellow means still bad! orange means GO HORNS!) It’s Republican genius. Pure gold.
The Other Steve
This sounds like a remarkably bad idea.
Aren’t we already casually accidentally murdering people?
[Smacks forehead] I get it now! The tons of unguarded HEX at Al Qua’qaa were a giant insurgent trap. That worked so well they want to try it … oh wait.
But I’m sure the Iraqi people will be delighted to know the U.S. is scattering more dangerous crap in their streets.
The Asymmetric Warfare Group came up with this crap? “Basically, we would put an item out there and watch it. If someone found the item, picked it up and attempted to leave with the item, we would engage the individual as I saw this as a sign they would use the item against U.S. Forces.”
This is stupid on so many levels. It’s no wonder this Pentagon group’s work is classified. It fails the common sense test. While I can imagine that bomb makers buy or have materials delivered to them, or improvise materials from local resources, it is absurd to think that even a nitwit bomb maker would go out and pick up crap planted on the ground.
It would make more sense to try to track bomb making materials directly. I am always astounded to read how easily arms merchants supply even the poorest insurgents, and wonder how this stuff could go on with apparently very little interdiction.
It would make even more sense to plant tracking devices in the “bait” and to see where it ended up. That anyone would assume that a person who picks this stuff up from the ground must by definition be a terrorist or an insurgent, or that this kind of nonsense comes from a War School think tank, is just pathetic. But then again, these are the people who thought that “shock and awe” bombing would be appropriate to use against people whom we were supposedly liberating, and who we believed would love us like cute little puppies.
Oh, the stories just keep repeating themselves on a 30-year cycle.
As a wise officer once said about a similar, morally-ambiguous situation … when required to provide hard data on the counter-insurgency campaign he was involved in: “if it’s dead, and it’s Vietnamese, it’s VC.” Hey, Presto! We beat the Viet Cong!
See also: Samar campaign, 1901; various campaigns against the Apache, Cayuse, and Cheyenne, etc. Nits make lice, hope they come into the reservation, and so forth.
This kind of thing always reminds me of what we were taught in 7th grade history about the Revolutionary War, that the British were outraged when we refused to meet them in battle in well-ordered ranks, exchanging volleys of musket fire in a civilized fashion, but instead fired from cover and in ambush. I wonder if they referred to us as “terrorists” or the 18th-century equivalent thereof.
Ooh, shiny. They must have dropped a lot of insurgent eight year olds.
“We must fight them over there or we’ll be fighting them in the streets of London and the smoking gun will be a … really big ol’ blunderbuss. Heh.” – King George III
Their King George ||| and our King George \/\/ seem to have similar levels of intellect. (Alternating backslashes and forward slashes appear to make a better “W” than I would have expected. Maybe because the text box is a serif font and the preview is sans-serif.)
Da Bombz Diggity
If the Bush Administration could respond to Iraq as the US did to Nagasaki and Hiroshima, their problems would surely disappear. But, mass genocide via nuclear weapons is not readily available these days. So, genocidal military tactics are being attempted. This is truly very sad. The Bush administration has created such a mess and at this rate, the only way to get Iraqis to follow the Bush administration is to fight them for decades with the intention of extinguishing the majority of Iraq who oppose the Bush administration’s occupation. If only the Bush administration had an ounce of intelligence, they might understand that even though they hate the Iranians we need the Iranians to help us with Iraq.
I’m proud to say that I hate Ahmadinejad and his propaganda! But it’s clear that the US can’t fully occupy Iraq because the Iraqis are opposing and fighting us. The Iraqis did not blow themselves up when that evil dictator, Hussein was in charge. al Qaeda wasn’t in Iraq nor were they terrorizing Iraqis before the Bush administration’s occupation. It is a reality that hundreds of thousands of Iraqis flee to Iran and Syria daily because of the US occupation of Iraq. Why is it that the Iraqis do not blow up Iranians and Syrians when they flee to their countries? It is tragic that the Bush administration has taken a hardline against Iran. Without the support of the Iranian people, we’ll never adequately see peace in Iraq. Iranians do not rejoice that Iraq is in shambles. Only some individuals in the US feel that way.
Well, maybe not if the backslashes vanish. How about this: King George \\/\\/.
Substitute Gay Porn for ammo and switch Baghdad with DC and there wouldn’t be a Republican Politico left alive there.
They use tactics? Since when?
Why is it that you are the only blog that always makes sense?
I used to refer to the current president as George II for a while, but he’s actually George III himself, counting Washington. So it’s cool that he has the same number as the king, but unfortunately, when we call the president “George III” it gets confusing because the Washington reference is not obvious.
It wasn’t at all clear, but in my first message I attempted to use back- and forward-slashes to construct a “W”. Unfortunately the two backslashes were used as escape characters in the final post (but not in the preview display), so all you saw was the two forward slashes. It should have been “King George \\/\\/,” which I think is unambiguous if it displays correctly.
J.A.F. Rusty Shackleford
“Go away! ‘Batin’!”
bombay bad boy
Well my theory is this, if you add milk to bannana powder you are most likley to get bannana milk.
This took me a long time to figure out, but by using the square root of 22 and combining it with a bannana, then dividing it by 4 and adding milk i came up with this brilliant idea. How clever of me, i amaze my self somtimes i realy do.
This is the Bannan milk powder creating contest from cameroon isnt it?
The Russians did their version of this, too, in Afganistan. They began molding small explosive devices in colorful shapes, then scattered them so people might be tempted to pick them up. When they did, the objects detonated. Another dead mujaheedin, they explained.
That’s what happened with those booby-trapped trinkets. Kids were often the ones who were maimed or killed by them. Because, duh, the young are curious and pick stuff up.
But we’re bettern’ than them evil godless Commies. Besides, it is not our intention to blow off hands or blind them; our snipers simply shoot them in the head. It’s quicker and therefore much more humane. And if they’re kids, so what, right? Just another future terr’st nipped in the bud. The ragheads will thank us later with flowers and candy, if they know what’s good for them.
Jesus, if I was unemployed and my family were hungry, I’d pick up stuff off the street with the hope to sell it, too. And what could be more saleable in Iraq than weapons and bullets?
Supporting ‘the troops’ now means to support stuff like this. It means tacitly agreeing to idiocy and casual murder, justified as a ‘tactic’ of war, carried out under orders.
The sooner we get the troops the hell out of Iraq, the sooner the end to war crimes like this.
Damn Tim, use the spell checker…. uh, “philosiphical”?
You’se a smart man, make use of it!
Tim, it makes no sense whatsoever. What’s the strategic result? It can only enrage people against us as they realize someone who had no hostile intent was executed by the US for just picking up bullets off the street. Bullets! In Iraq! Who woulda thunk? It will only make more insurgents.
And what’s the tactical result? More dead insurgents? How the hell do they know? They have no way to determine who is an insurgent when they pick up the ‘bait’ and who is not, and therefore they have no way to measure its effectiveness.
As someone pointed out upthread, we can be sure of one thing: The sniper either shoots the civilian who takes the ‘bait’ or lets him walk away with munitions that could be used against the sniper’s own guys. And if the civilian were actually not an insurgent and was only scrounging for a living, the buyer he sells to may just be an insurgent.
These idiots have rigged a situation where they either must shoot everyone or they are essentially helping to arm the insurgency.
And consider the sniper: It puts him in the situation where if a child does the picking up, he’s faced with the same choice: shoot the kid dead or let him walk with a weapon that may find its way to a real insurgent.
I understand the Army chooses its snipers for their pyschological ability to compartmentalize and distance themselves from their targets. (A top-killing Soviet sniper in WW2 referred to her kills as ‘broken sticks’ as a way of distancing herself and dehumanizing her human targets). But I gotta wonder if shooting kids like baited animals would mess up even a sniper’s mind — or worse, make them into stone cold killers.
Eventually, you know, these snipers will come back home. I’d suspect some of them will have a hard time of it. Young men with terrible nightmares — or those who have learned to feel nothing whatsoever about killing even children.
No, it makes no sense whatsoever.
Things like “baiting” are just tactics of desperation. In the WaPo article it even said that it was instituted because of pressure from higher-ups that wanted larger body counts. Showing they haven’t learned a thing from Vietnam. The war is militarily unwinnable, and many U.S. commanders have said as much. It’s lost, face it America. Besides, you don’t deserve to come out of this with anything other than abject humiliation since it was an illegal, immoral war from the start and history will remember it as such. Pull out the butchers and mercenaries NOW. Iraq is not the 51st state.